Happy New Year! The Disneyland Resort will ring in 2013 tonight in both theme parks but it’s been a spectacular 2012 at the Resort, with big changes in both parks and throughout Downtown Disney. Disney California Adventure emerged from a five-year re-imagining and expansion project that finally made the park a major player in the theme park industry. In addition to the park’s new Buena Vista Street main entrance plaza and the new 12-acre Cars Land, California Adventure saw numerous changes, upgrades, and improvements over the last year. Today, we take a look back at all of the construction and changes that culminated in the park’s grand re-opening in June.
Get a closer look at today’s update! Click on any photo in today’s column for a large, high-resolution version of the image.
If you missed our first part, covering 2012 at Disneyland, Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Resort Hotels, please click here.
Your Guide to New Year’s Eve at Disneyland
Before we get started on our recap of 2012, our friends at Touring Plans have their crowd forecast for New Year’s Eve and the first week of 2013.
Happy New Year! Expect heavy crowds during the first couple weeks of 2013. TouringPlans.com can help you navigate the parks with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines – Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now is a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!
Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.
— Fred Hazelton, Statistician, TouringPlans.com
|Tues., Jan. 1||Here are some quick-hit notes that we hope you’ll find helpful as you prepare your visits for the week:
|Wed., Jan. 2||10 /10|
|Thu., Jan. 3||8 /10|
|Fri., Jan. 4||8 /10|
|Crowd levels are based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.See Disneyland crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disneyland wait times on your iPhone, Android, or Smartphone.Do more. Wait less.
Dateline Disneyland is sponsored by TouringPlans.com.
If you’re planning on ringing in 2013 at Disneyland tonight, be sure to arrive prepared! The parks will be extremely busy and may close at times to new guests. Plan accordingly and be sure to pace yourself and be friendly and patient with others in the parks. Below is a look at what Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will be doing to celebrate the new year.
|New Year’s Eve 2013 Entertainment Guide|
Park Hours: 8 am – 2 am
Extra Magic Hour*: 7 am
* Extra Magic Hour is available on December 31 to Registered Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests.
|Disney California Adventure
Park Hours: 8 am – 1 am
Extra Magic Hour*: 7 am
* Extra Magic Hour is available on December 31 to Registered Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests.
New Year’s Eve Countdown Central|
at Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
9 p.m. – 12 midnight
Don’t miss this exciting party, complete with a fab host, rockin’ DJ and periodic appearances by Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
New Year’s Eve
Rockin’ the Rivers of America
“it’s a small world”
Tomorrowland Terrace Dance Party
World of Color Countdown to Midnight
at Paradise Park
Watch Paradise Bay spring to life with a spectacular countdown to 2013 with fountains and fireworks followed by a special showing of World of Color.
Mad T Party Countdown to 2013
New Year’s Eve in Carthay Circle
A Paradise Garden New Year
Radiator Springs races into 2013
|New Year’s Eve Weather at Disneyland
High 61° F
Sunny skies. Winds light and variable.
Chance of rain 0%
Low 40° F
A few clouds from time to time. Winds light and variable.
Chance of rain 10%
Complimentary New Year’s Eve party hats and horns will be available beginning at 6:00 p.m. at designated distribution areas in each theme park:
Disneyland Park: Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, Frontierland
Disney California Adventure: Near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Hollywood Land
Glow in the New Year
New Year’s Eve Survival Tips
The fog that settled over the Disneyland Resort last New Year’s Eve was so heavy that it even blocked out the New Year’s Eve World of Color countdown and low-level fireworks in Paradise Bay.
Below, our video of the fog-covered New Year’s Eve 2012 World of Color countdown:
|Building a Better View|
Disney California Adventure’s old Sunshine Plaza entrance complex saw its final days in 2011, but a large majority of construction on the new Buena Vista Street entrance plaza was completed in the first several months of 2012 before the area’s grand opening in June.
Aside from the Carthay Circle Theater, the first week of January saw Buena Vista Street primarily as a series of steel frameworks.
By March, with just over three months until the park’s reopening, Buena Vista Street had made significant strides. Disney announced the California Adventure re-opening would officially take place June 15.
Disney Imagineers buried a time capsule by the flagpole at the northern end of Buena Vista Street
Disney also released photos of Red Car Trolley testing at the end of March, giving the public its first glimpse of the trolleys on the tracks.
Buena Vista Street construction by mid-April:
…Just a couple weeks later, the Cars Land entrance marquee went up by the end of the month.
The Cozy Cones began to be painted orange by the end of January.
By the end of March, the Cars Land neon had begun testing and Disney had released a video of the new neon lighting up Route 66
…and the statue of Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs, found its new home at the end of Route 66
By mid-May, Cars Land was starting to get some of its final touches and Disney was kicking its marketing machine into high gear with a TV spot and interactive web site advertising the new 12-acre land.
In January, Disney launched a park-wide initiative to spruce up existing areas and operations before the park’s summer grand re-opening. The initiative, referred to as “Project Sparkle,” first worked on fixing up Paradise Pier. New construction walls sprung up soon as the new year started and a remodeling project got underway at the midway shops.
By the end of January, the new facade and wood paneling on remaining facades was starting to emerge.
The reworked facades were finished by mid-February, giving this stretch of the pier a look more consistent with the nearby Toy Story Midway Mania. While some old marquees remain and the shop interiors weren’t changed, the facades do look much better than they did before. Good news is that this stretch of shops along with the nearby site of the former Maliboomer are expected to become the site of a new attraction in the next several years.
In early March, another project fixing up the Grizzly Peak area began to wrap up. New paint jobs helped turn the clock back a bit, bringing a 1950s-era National Parks feel to the area. The new paint replaced the run-down extreme sports theme that this area of the park opened with in 2001.
Scaffolding went up in March along some facades on Hollywood Blvd.
By the end of March, the Hollywood Pictures Backlot’s name change to Hollywood Land was official with new decals on the land’s trash cans.
By the end of May, the Cove Bar reopened sporting a great new period-appropriate look with vintage-style carnival signage and photos.
May also saw outdoor vending carts throughout the park got new signage and new costumes for ODV Cast Members.
In January, Disney announced the replacement for the Hollywood Pictures Backlot’s nighttime dance party, ElecTRONica. A announcement broke the news that a new Alice In Wonderland-themed dance party would replace the TRON-themed offering in June.
Below, our video clip of ElecTRONica’s final night:
The new soda fountain soft-opened in late May, just in time for the park’s grand reopening in June.
Our video of the animated mural behind the ice cream counter:
|Minnie Soars, Ariel Changes, and Pixar Plays|
In Condor Flats, Minnie flew into a new show celebrating aviation with the new “Minnie’s Fly Girls Charter Airlines.” The show debuted in mid-February and is a charming show that helps support the land’s revised temporal setting.
Over at Paradise Pier’s The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, the ride saw several changes in May, with new hair for Ariel in the “Under the Sea” room and revised animation for the projected scenes.
Our video of Ariel’s new hair:
The parade had a few modifications due to the new Red Car Trolley wires through Hollywood Land and Carthay Circle. The Ratatouille float was removed entirely due to height and below, Jack Jack was relocated to avoid the wires.
|Adventurous New Beginnings|
All of Disney’s hard work paid off in June as Cast Members and Annual Passholders were treated to previews earning rave reviews for the re-imagined park before its June 15th Grand Re-Opening. Buena Vista Street revealed a charming and intimate new main entrance for the park that takes guests back to a Los Angeles Walt Disney might have known when he arrived in the late 1920s.
Below, our video of the first guest ride aboard the Red Car Trolley
The Cast Member and Annual Passholder previews also gave guests a sneak peek at the new 12-acre Cars Land area. Rich with detail and featuring a great new E-Ticket ride, Cars Land proved to be the game changer Disney was looking for.
Some views around Radiator Springs Racers:
And a full ride-through video:
On June 14, Cars Land opened in a private ceremony for invited guests and media.
On June 15, California Adventure reopened to the public with the grand opening of Buena Vista Street followed by the opening of the park to Guests.
Below, our video of the first guests racing into Cars Land
The grand opening of California Adventure also brought the new “Glow with the Show” ear hats to World of Color. While the ear hats have yet to catch on with regular guests, Disney previewed the hats at a media event where the entire audience was given hats and the effect was truly remarkable.
Below, Disney’s video look at the five-year expansion of the Disneyland Resort, including the transformation of Disney California Adventure:
With new so much happening at California Adventure, the first summer with all of its new toys was sure to be period where growing pains were experienced. First up, Luigi’s Flying Tires had its beach balls removed.
By September, the gorgeously themed Buena Vista Street windows had been cluttered with cheap merchandise. Disney quickly reduced the amount of merchandise present in the displays after fan outcry flared online, but not all of it was removed.
For Halloween, Disney promoted its new stop-motion animation film “Frankenweenie” with a special exhibit in the Disney Animation building and a special sneak preview of the film in the Muppet*Vision Theater.
In October, padding was added to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree ride vehicles after Disney received reports of Guest injuries
|Soarin’ Over California|
Disney’s video of the fly-over below:
|A California Christmas|
Disney California Adventure wrapped up 2012 with a spectacular holiday season offering a fantastic line-up of new holiday offerings in its new Buena Vista Street and Cars Land areas.
Below, Buena Vista Street’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony:
|Weekly News & Information Round-Up|
|Weekly Theme Park Hours
December 31 — January 6, 2012
|Disneyland Park||Disney California Adventure|
|New Year’s Eve: 8 am – 2 am|
Tuesday-Saturday: 8 am – 12 midnight
Sunday: 8 am – 11 pm
|New Year’s Eve: 8 am – 1 am
Tuesday-Saturday: 8 am – 11 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 10 pm
visit the Disneyland.com Theme Park Calendar
7.8—10.0 out of 10
6.0—9.9 out of 10
with 1 being the least crowded conditions and 10 being most crowded.
For crowd predictions for the next 365 days, visit
A quick look at noteworthy Disney theme park headlines from around the web.
Alright, that wraps up the second part of our two-part 2012 Year in Review. It’s been a spectacular year, hasn’t it? Let us know what your favorite new thing at California Adventure was this year in the comments below. And once again, thanks for reading and we hope all of you have a happy and safe new year!
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|FTC-Mandated Disclosure: Promotional consideration for this edition of Dateline Disneyland was provided by TouringPlans.com | Do More. Wait Less. and the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel & Water Playground.|